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Online Masters Degree in Gerontology

While aging is a difficult process, there are clear benefits. As stand-up comedian Dennis Wolfberg once said, "There's one advantage to being 102. There's no peer pressure." A good sense of humor can get you far in life and in the field of gerontology, which is the physical, mental and sociological study of aging.

In recent times, old age has transformed from a personal issue to a societal one, as demand grows for senior housing, retirement planners and geriatric specialists. By 2050, senior citizens are expected to make up 21 percent of the total population, compared to 12 percent in 2004. Wide-ranging gerontology careers include your choice of management roles, research positions and hands-on care.

Master's degrees in gerontology

Students earning master's degrees in gerontology come from various backgrounds, including health care, social work and the social sciences. Programs immerse you in topics such as these:

  1. Economics of aging
  2. End-of-life decision making
  3. Health and aging
  4. Housing for the elderly
  5. Life span developmental sociology
  6. Political and administrative issues for seniors

Specific courses depend on the school and on your goals. Most programs offer a variety of electives to prepare professionals for diverse careers in health care, management or the social sciences. For example, health services concentrations explore the psychology and physiology of aging, with coursework on counseling older adults and their families. Programs may involve practical field work or a capstone project.

Career outlook in gerontology

The field of gerontology offers job opportunities as well as the rewards of a worthy calling. The Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates rapid job growth in health care and other professions that work with the aging population. The BLS reported these projected 2010-2020 growth rates for related positions, shown with their 2011 median annual salaries:

  1. Medical and health services managers: 22 percent; $86,400
  2. Occupational therapists: 33 percent; $73,820
  3. Registered nurses: 26 percent; $65,950
  4. Social and human service assistants: 28 percent; $28,740
  5. Social workers -- all others: 25 percent; $53,900
  6. Sociologists: 18 percent; $73,670

Some of these positions require specialized, on-the-job training; management roles typically require experience as well as a degree. If you are already working, online gerontology classes allow you to study while you maintain your current job and other obligations.

Featured Online Gerontology Degree Programs

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